Heart Diet & Nutrition Tips
Cardiovascular Health in Salinas valley
The food we eat makes minor changes to our body, changes that become more
and more significant as we fall into dietary habits. Foods high in sugars,
saturated fats and cholesterol create plaque in the lining of your arteries
which make it harder for blood to flow. The formation of this plaque is
called atherosclerosis, which also hardens and narrows the arteries. This
is a leading cause of heart disease such as heart attacks and strokes.
Thankfully, even if you have not maintained a healthy diet in recent years,
it is possible to reduce cholesterol before you experience a complication.
Creating a Healthier Diet
Make a list of foods you eat on a regular basis. Have you ever looked at
the nutrition label before? Make a noted of the items listed below that
impact your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol
and high blood pressure.
Review your nutrition labels for the following:
Sodium – Primarily found in salt, sodium is a main contributor to increased blood
pressure. Sodium is used in nearly everything, and fast foods contain
especially high concentrations. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
recommends you limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams per day. If you already
have high blood pressure, consult with your doctor on how much your body
Potassium – Even in a high sodium diet, you can keep your body regulated with potassium.
Potassium acts in opposition to sodium by lowering blood pressure. Beans,
bananas and tomatoes are all excellent sources of potassium.
Saturated fat – High saturated fat intake increases your cholesterol and hardens your
arteries. These fats appear in many foods, but are primarily found in
red meat. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends you limit saturated
fats to 13 grams a day.
Omega-3 fatty acids – There is a “good” form of cholesterol called high
density lipoprotein (HDL) that is found in omega-3 fatty acids. HDL actually
removes bad cholesterol as it moves through the bloodstream, but only
in high concentrations. Consume anywhere between 250-500 mgs a keep levels
high. Omega-3 can be found in several fish, almonds, walnuts and spinach.
Trans fats – Even sodium and saturated fats have health benefits when used in moderation.
Not so with trans fats, which have no nutritional value whatsoever. Trans
fats are cheap and add flavor to food, making it a popular choice for
food manufacturers and restaurant owners. Trans fat increase your cholesterol
while reducing good cholesterol. They also raise chances of developing
diabetes. Avoid eating trans fats whenever possible.
– A diet high in sugars, starches and carbohydrates may lead to weight gain,
insulin resistance and diabetes. Sugars are typically hidden in processed
foods; and thus, these foods should be avoided. The daily recommended
limit of sugar is 25 grams for women and 35 grams for men.
Understanding Serving Size
Most nutrient information on food packaging refers to the expected nutrients
you will consume in a serving size. For most people, the serving size
is much smaller than the amount they actually eat. For instance, a bag
of chips may list a serving size as “1 ounce,” which is about
a handful of chips. You need to multiply the nutrition information according
to the amount you are actually eating. If a serving size is one handful,
and you eat 4, you have consumed 4 times the amount of sodium, trans fats,
and other nutrients listed on the bag.
Look for AHA Approved Foods
Having trouble picking out heart healthy foods at the grocery store? It
can be tricky. Certain companies have become wise to the growing health
trend and attempted to “hide” discouraging nutrient information
by renaming certain items or claiming to be “heart healthy”
after meeting the bare minimum standards approved by the FDA.
The AHA has studiously reviewed foods for heart health and marked them
with their certified seal of approval. Look food labeled with a heart
and checkmark. Make sure the label reads “American Heart Association
Certified,” as certain manufacturers have mimicked the heart check
logo to mislead consumers.